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Somewhat atypical of the Italian Dark Sound, with their very theatrical and performative sound, Milan's La Stanza delle Maschere's quite individual debut album was released late last year. Comrade Aleks caught up with guitarist/bassist/keyboardist Domenico Lotito for more details...

Interview with La Stanza delle Maschere.
"La Stanza delle Maschere ('The Room of Masks') represents the so- called Italian Dark Sound, a subgenre (usually) rooted in Trad Doom, Italian dark cinematography and, sometimes, Progressive Metal or Rock. These bands have their own authentic aesthetic, and this outfit from Milan can be seen as a very good example of this style. All six members wear masks, demonstrating the band's enigmatic nature. They formed around six years ago, but their debut self-titled album didn’t see release until 2020, through the efforts of Black Widow Records. Leading female vocals, a Doom Metal basis, cinematographic keyboards and solemn narration build La Stanza delle Maschere’s individuality and its ghostly gloom essence. And, of course, an interview with one of the band members is a most effective way to learn more, so let me introduce you to Domenico Lotito (guitars, bass, synths), one of the those who wear the mask."

Hi Domenico! How are you? What's going on in the La Stanza delle Maschere camp?

Hi Aleks, I am very happy to hear from you and I hope you are well. Here in Italy, as in the rest of the world, the situation is not the best but they try to be positive by drawing inspiration from the teachings of the greats of the past. The band returned to play all together and we also found inspiration for new musical and literary ideas.

Do you mean that music and lyrics have equal meaning for you and your band mates?

Absolutely yes . Our project was born from the idea of creating music for the stories of our narrator Angelo. It was a long collaborative work where his literary works crossed with my musical ideas. The atmosphere that is created between the lyrics and the music is very important to us. Every text, every emotion, every literary fear requires different styles of music. Notes and letters must be in the service of fear and the unknown

Black Widow Records released your self-titled debut one year ago, in the midst of the quarantine. What was people's reaction to the album? How intensive was the feedback?

I and Angelo (the narrator and creator of the lyrics) are happy with the work of Black Widow Records but, above all, we are happy to have found new friends; in fact Massimo, Pino and Laura have become very good friends. Extraordinary people who, in addition to having believed in us, possess a great empathy towards others and a great cultural level. It is a very important thing. We certainly weren't expecting such a positive response. If someone, in the past, would have told me I would never have believed it...

The album 'La Stanza delle Maschere' is performed in the combined-genre vein which is often described as "Italian Dark Sound". How would you characterize its artistic features from your point of view?

It is always very difficult to be able to judge what has been built. Surely, from my point of view, it is a very eclectic project because it goes from the decadent atmospheres of horror to the noir sensations of Milan Caliber 9.

We love the dark sound, the soundtracks of Fabio Frizzi, Luis Bacalov, Goblin and the Italian Dark Progressive: Jacula, Osanna, Balletto di Bronzo, Biglietto per l'Inferno, New Trolls, Il Segno del Comando. We are just grateful to these great bands.

Milan Caliber 9? Do mean that crime movie from the '70s, "Caliber 9"? What attracted you to this one?

Yes, exactly "Caliber 9". I grew up with Fernando Di Leo's film noir. My father, when I was little, made me watch these movies. I have always loved this film because, in addition to seeing the old Milan, I find it truly poetic and dark at the same time. I find the figure of Ugo Piazza disturbing and evocative. Character without a past and with a penetrating gaze. We add the magnificent interpretation of Mario Adorf and the beautiful Barbara Bouche. What about Luis Bavaloc's soundtrack with Osanna. Unique masterpiece!

La Stanza delle Maschere - 'Sette Note In Nero' (Official, 2020):

And let's ask - is Italian Dark Sound so tightly connected with Italian cinema? Can we imagine this genre without the soundtracks, noir atmospheres and eroticism of those old movies?

Absolutely not! I am a great collector / lover of soundtracks and I am fully convinced that many films would not have had the same success without that extraordinary and timeless music. I could never imagine Suspiria without the music of the Goblins as well as The Beyond without the compositions of the great Fabio Frizzi. I think it's a beautiful thing because one thing compensates for the other by creating something unique and exciting.

'La Stanza delle Maschere' sounds very solid: it leaves the impression of a Dark Metal play with its own story and characters behind it. How did you compose this material? What kind of result did you aim to achieve?

Great credit must be given to Angelo's stories that manage to give me very great macabre sensations. I read his stories and then I try to compose riffs that can convey the idea of the atmosphere of the story. In the case of the songs taken from Horror movies it was even more difficult because I had to learn the themes of the soundtracks to fit them into various guitar riffs. When I was rehearsing the pieces, I was trying to sing Angelo's lyrics to measure the amount of music / lyrics. He was really good! This album was born from a great team work. Great and sincere brotherhood that has lasted for twenty years

The lyrics are written in Italian and there's no translation in the booklet, can you give details of your message? What is it about?

The lyrics are born from the visionary stories of my friend / partner Angelo. Macabre tales also born from our passion for the Gothic of Pupi Avati, Mario Bava and the great Lucio Fulci. Indeed it would be very interesting to re- propose them in an international language. This would be an idea to propose to the label. Our message is simply to thank the Masters of the past because they have managed, sometimes with great difficulty, to free us from the impositions and hypocrisy of a society that lives in materialistic values, in bad competitions and in the division social . Art made to communicate and not just to sell.

So you have an opportunity to tell about the album's plot to our readers who don't speak Italian! Bring it on! What's the concept behind these songs?

Behind our tales are macabre stories of alchemists involved in experiments concerning the creation of life through the body of the dead. Disturbing masks that observe and scrutinize human madness. Abandoned theaters where horror shows are the architects of bloody murders. Painters who portray people awaiting death, disquieting priests at the service of darkness

La Stanza delle Maschere - 'La Casa dalle Finestre che Ridono' (Official, 2021):

You recorded these songs with the highly experienced Carlo Meroni at helm, how did you build a collaboration with him? How actively was he involved in the process?

It was Angelo who proposed Carlo Meroni's studio and I am very happy with his work. He is a great professional. Very nice and friendly person, it was a great pleasure to have worked with him. He is also an excellent musician and sound engineer. We will take this into account for the future.

How much of Carlo is in this album? Did he advise you on some solutions and ideas?

Working with Carlo was great because it gave us great artistic freedom. Everything comes from our ideas but Carlo helped us to better select our ideas because, at times, some were too heavy. Carlo helped us measure our thoughts with our music

It's said that first 30 copies on CD contained a bloody dagger, who came out with this idea?

The idea came from our friend Pino Pintabona of Black Widow Records who, with great creativity and intelligence, proposed this beautiful idea. Simply brilliant!

Domenico you also took part in Alexander Scardavian's project StrangeHere: there's been no news from that for six years. Is it still active?

Unfortunately Alexander and I live very far away but, soon, we should meet to talk about the sequel to Strange Here II. We have accumulated many ideas and many themes to develop. For me Alexander is like a brother and I can't wait to be able to resume with him

Are you satisfied with the course of events around 'La Stanza delle Maschere''s release? How soon would you like to return at the studio for new songs?

I'm not only happy but much more. I am enthusiastic. I would never, I repeat "never", have expected such an excellent response. Considering the time of the pandemic, that's one more reason to be happy. Times are very dark and you have to live for the day trying, in addition to being close to your loved ones, to enjoy every moment. We had the honor of being appreciated by the Master Pupi Avati, the great Fabio Frizzi and by our friend Antonella Fulci. We are more than happy!

A new piece of ours will be released for a tribute to the Master H.P. Lovecraft of Black Widow Records. We are rehearsing to be able to do some concerts. There are some new ideas ....

Lovecraft tribute! I've heard about it! It will be something! Which story did you choose for La Stanza delle Maschere?

We chose Cool Air because, in addition to being the shared story we love, it is the one that best makes our idea of the macabre. A story that could also contain the essence of the horror films of Lucio Fulci and Pupi Avati: the search for life and the study of the afterlife

Okay Dominico! Thank you for the interview! Did we miss anything? Would you like to add a few more words for our readers?

I take this opportunity to thank you. You have been very kind and helpful and especially nowadays it is a very rare quality. I want to greet everyone who appreciated our music, the readers of this interview, thank our friends from Black Widow Records (Massimo, Pino and Laura), Antonella Fulci, Carlo Meroni, my big brother Alexander Scardavian and everyone.

Thank you very much for the support and for the love you show towards music and us musicians. W the Gothic Padano and Fulci Lives!

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Visit the La Stanza delle Maschere bandpage.

Interviewed on 2021-12-07 by Comrade Aleks Evdokimov.
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